Sunday, June 22, 2008


We have been home for a week now after another trip to Colorado. This time we went to the beautiful town of Loveland for a wedding. I enjoyed seeing my college friends and roomies, if only for one day. I have to admit, however, that I'm looking forward to spending the rest of the summer at home.

Starting about a month ago I started getting the urge to clean out my house and try to simplify. "Simple living" is a common theme among many of the blogs I read, especially of the crafting category. A part of me feels a bit like I'm joining a bandwagon, but the other part feels like saying, "so what?! This is a worth-while bandwagon to join!" So, I'm hopping on.

For me, this all started when I'd walk into a room in my home, or have some time to do something, but I had so many choices I didn't know where to begin: I'd walk into the kitchen and be so overwhelmed by cluttered counters and dishes piling up that I wouldn't bother cleaning; when I tried to pack for our trip to Durango I felt like I had "nothing to wear," yet brought ten outfits for a five-day trip (and six pairs of shoes!); I wouldn't know what I should work on for my crafting time--Pat's sweater, Pat's cross-stitch, finish Matt's cloth diapers, perhaps start a new project that wouldn't get finished and would end up hanging over my head? Choices are good, don't get me wrong, but sometimes too many choices can be overwhelming and make life unproductive and stressful.

I logged onto Ravelry, went to the Simple Living group, and perused their references. I checked out Plain and Simple by Sue Bender and Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin at the library, and read them both before and during my Durango trip. Plain and Simple is a short read about one woman's journey to the Amish. I've studied the Amish before, and as with any society, I understand that no one group lives an ideal and perfect life. I found much value in the author's comments regarding choice. To summarize, sometimes having fewer choices brings clearer answers and more confidence in the choices that are made. This made me think, "what in my life can I decrease or eliminate so that I may be free to make valuable choices of careful choosing instead of in the midst of being overwhelmed and flustered?"

Voluntary Simplicity was first written in the mid-1980s with a second edition published about ten years later. I liked how Elgin highlighted the theme of simplicity in every major (and many minor) religions/philosophies in the world. I also liked the stress placed on voluntary: if simplicity isn't voluntary, it can often be viewed as poverty. Again, choice is so important. Would you rather ride a bicycle to work because you like the exercise and not adding to the pollution in the environment, or would you rather ride a bicycle because your car was reposessed and you have no other choice?

This discussion will most likely be ongoing for me. I have already had setbacks, like frivolously adding to my son's toy pile that is almost always passed up for a ball of yarn lying on the floor, but that happens. I also hope to have a few finished projects up shortly!

By the way, for you knitters/crocheters out there, Knit Picks is having a 40% off sale on ALL of their in-stock books.


elliebelle said...

Hi Katie!
I think it is so interesting to hear what you have to say, because I feel many of the same feelings you do! I am in the process of moving in to my boyfriend's 2 bedroom house, after having a 2 bedroom apartment to myself! It has been a bit of a struggle trying to organize everything, and to actually SEE how much I have! I can be very overwhelming! It's hard to cut back when you just love everything! haha...which I'm guessing you probably understand. :) Take care!

Heidi said...

I can really relate with what you are saying. I have struggled to keep things simple and with each child life gets a little more complicated, and there is less time to be actively simple (does that make sense?) I guess by actively simple I mean it takes work to keep things cleared, get rid of stuff, keep your space un cluttered, and I have fallen really far behind... but in other ways I have embraced that this is the way life is right now and kind of roll with it.
My all time favorite books on simplicity is "The simple living guide" by Janet Luhrs and then I really like "30 days to simplicity" this one is an ongoing read for me